clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Can DJ Durkin take Maryland from a sleeping giant to an actual giant?

New, comments

Maryland has long been considered a sleeping football giant. The Terps' new head coach is trying to wake it up. This is Bill C.'s 128-team season preview.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. On sleeping giants

On Twitter this past weekend, I asked people about sleeping giants, and it resulted in two conclusions I kind of expected:

1. Everybody's a sleeping giant. Nearly half of FBS (54 of 128 teams) got at least one vote. We all think our program is just one hire away from greatness. We might be right if that hire is Bill Snyder-caliber. But most aren't. Still, this is the college football dream.

2. North Carolina and Maryland got the most votes. We all have our definition of "sleeping giants," and mine doesn't include teams that have actually been giants recently. (So no Miami, no Texas, no Michigan, etc.) We know they can be giants, and to me the "sleeping giants" moniker is about who else could become one.

Because of geography and shoe money, Maryland fans can talk themselves into having a solid "sleeping giant" case. The Terrapins are located near all sorts of top-tier talent in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, etc. It's the talent that Penn State, Virginia Tech, and others have brought in while winning tons of games in recent decades. It rarely chooses the Terrapins. But if it did...

Meanwhile, Maryland has been called the "next Oregon" for a while, because Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is a Maryland grad and one-time Maryland walk-on. The Terps have become the UA guinea pig in the same way that Oregon has for Nike.

The main difference between Oregon and Maryland: Oregon has made four good coaching hires in a row. Maryland's current streak stands at zero.

Ralph Friedgen wasn't sexy enough, basically. He wasn't the kind of ace recruiter or dynamic presence that Maryland's new administration envisioned leading the Terps through an Under Armour age. You can disagree with that sentiment -- it certainly felt off-putting to watch Maryland dump a coach while he was going 9-4 at Maryland, but it's a sentiment. And if the school had made a good replacement hire, then it would have been alright.

Randy Edsall wasn't a terrible hire. He recruited reasonably well (considering the results, anyway), and despite getting obliterated by injury, he managed to take Maryland to bowls in his third and fourth seasons in charge. But he seemed to be laying groundwork on which he could never quite capitalize. And if you're going to replace a solid coach because he didn't recruit well enough or create a high enough ceiling, then you should bring in someone who actually can.

Regardless, the five-year Edsall experiment is over. And in theory, Maryland might have just made the high-ceiling hire it meant to make in 2011.

DJ Durkin has one hell of a pedigree at this point. A graduate assistant on Urban Meyer's Bowling Green teams, he ended up catching a big break by landing on Jim Harbaugh's Stanford staff (as defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator) in 2007. Harbaugh sought to build a staff of young, hungry competitors, and Durkin fit the bill.

After three years at Stanford, Durkin moved east to Florida to join Meyer's staff in 2010, then stayed aboard when Will Muschamp took over. He spent 2013-14 as UF's defensive coordinator, then took over as Harbaugh's DC in 2015 at Michigan.

Durkin has extensive experience under both of the marquee coaching names in the Big Ten East, and he has put together a fascinating staff, with a layer of seasoned hands (former Virginia head coach Mike London, former Ball State head coach Pete Lembo, former Stanford assistant Andy Buh, 35-year offensive line coach Dave Borbely) and a layer of young-and-hungries.

Early on, the staff is making a splash: Per the 247Sports Composite, the Terps currently have one five-star commitment and four four-stars, and despite having only 11 commits, they are 20th in the summer recruiting rankings.

Now, one of the reasons I only pay marginal attention to recruiting at this stage in the cycle is that a) commitments are obviously not binding just yet, and b) it takes more than one good recruiting class to see results. There's a tricky balance here -- building a winner at a program like Maryland requires a coaching staff that can both recruit and capitalize on the talent at hand while that recruiting is ongoing. If you don't win quickly, you won't continue to recruit well. Just ask Mark Stoops at Kentucky, who nailed the first year or two on the job but is just 12-24 after three years.

Still, in building this staff the way he did, Durkin clearly understands that balance. His assistants are a mix of young and old, tactically proven and experimental. Durkin is trying to stick the landing. Maybe he won't; maybe this chemistry experiment will explode. (They often do.) Or maybe he is exactly the hire Maryland was looking for in the quest to become the New Oregon.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 6-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 76 | Final S&P+ Rk: 65
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
5-Sep Richmond N/A 50-21 W 92% 100% +15.1
12-Sep Bowling Green 25 27-48 L 51% 7% -30.7 -28.5
19-Sep South Florida 44 35-17 W 95% 97% +5.2 +11.0
26-Sep at West Virginia 31 6-45 L 11% 0% -19.8 -22.0
3-Oct Michigan 8 0-28 L 15% 0% -12.2 -12.0
10-Oct at Ohio State 3 28-49 L 46% 1% -3.1 +12.0
24-Oct vs. Penn State 47 30-31 L 68% 45% +13.8 +5.5
31-Oct at Iowa 38 15-31 L 34% 1% +5.6 +1.0
7-Nov Wisconsin 32 24-31 L 81% 58% +7.2 +4.5
14-Nov at Michigan State 9 7-24 L 29% 1% -3.4 -2.0
21-Nov Indiana 61 28-47 L 36% 6% -19.9 -21.5
28-Nov at Rutgers 101 46-41 W 66% 69% -2.2 +4.0

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 27.1 81 25.3 48
Points Per Game 24.7 95 34.4 103

2. Rolling a boulder up a hill

Edsall could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He had scored a commitment from blue-chip quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and Haskins was busy trying to help recruit other big-name future Turtles. All Edsall had to do was win just enough to keep his job until 2016, then watch a new set of high-ceiling youngsters begin to take over the program.

The season started off reasonably well. Maryland looked the part in disposing of Richmond and a USF team that was much better than we realized at the time; a loss to Bowling Green made it harder to craft a path to six wins, but if they kept playing like they did against USF, a few more wins would probably show up.

One more win showed up.

  • First 3 games: Record: 2-1 | Average percentile performance: 79% (~top 25)
  • Next 3 games: Record: 0-3 | Average percentile performance: 24% (~top 95)
  • Next 3 games: Record: 0-3 | Average percentile performance: 61% (~top 50)
  • Last 3 games: Record: 1-2 | Average percentile performance: 44% (~top 70)

The schedule handed Maryland consecutive games against West Virginia (which was smoking hot at the time), Michigan, and Ohio State. The Terps got outscored, 122-34, and Edsall was canned.

Maryland bounced back with solid (and ultimately unsuccessful) showings against Penn State and Wisconsin; then came another couple of duds against Michigan State and Indiana. The season was like pushing a boulder up a hill -- making a little bit of progress, tripping and getting flattened, then starting the process all over again.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.42 5 IsoPPP+ 104.1 53
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 35.5% 116 Succ. Rt. + 96.0 89
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 33.8 121 Def. FP+ 30.7 92
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 3.9 112 Redzone S&P+ 92.0 105
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 25.3 ACTUAL 36 +10.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 87 72 89 53
RUSHING 31 14 43 6
PASSING 109 110 112 104
Standard Downs 61 80 54
Passing Downs 72 92 57
Q1 Rk 34 1st Down Rk 64
Q2 Rk 114 2nd Down Rk 94
Q3 Rk 77 3rd Down Rk 41
Q4 Rk 62

3. A Walt Bell offense

Credit Maryland quarterbacks for one thing: They threw the softest, most catchable interceptions in the country last year. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe combined for an astounding 28 interceptions in only 345 passes last year. Whereas most quarterbacks end up with an interception rate somewhere between about 1.5 and four percent, theirs was 8.1 percent.

That's really hard to do ... unintentionally, at least. And it's probably unsustainable. Whereas interceptions typically make up about 21-23 percent of all passes defensed (INTs + breakups), for Maryland it was 39 percent. Having 75 passes defensed is far too many, but it probably should have resulted in about 17 interceptions, not the team total of 29. This was the primary reason why UMD's turnover luck (minus-4.6 points per game) was the second-worst in the country.

Maryland was unlucky, but the Terps also shouldn't have been throwing so damn much. They had one of the best, most explosive run games in the country: Not including sacks, Hills and Rowe combined to average 7.1 yards per carry, while running backs Brandon Ross, Wes Brown, and Ty Johnson averaged 5.9. Meanwhile, even ignoring the INTs, Hills/Rowe averaged 4.9 yards per pass attempt. And yet, Maryland threw more frequently than the national average on standard downs. Even at the time, this didn't make sense.

That's probably not a mistake new offensive coordinator Walt Bell is going to make. He spent the last two years as Arkansas State's offensive coordinator, and let's just say that ASU's offensive approach in 2015 would have fit Maryland's personnel quite a bit better. The Red Wolves ran 68 percent of the time on standard downs and 42 percent of the time on passing downs. They established a high tempo and a strong, exciting, dual-threat run game. They couldn't really pass any better than Maryland, but they also played to their strengths.

You do still have to pass occasionally, and the fact that neither Hills nor Rowe can do it particularly well could open the door for a newcomer this fall (incoming freshman Tyrrell Pigrome certainly fits the bill athletically, though he might not be any better with his arm). But even if Maryland is doomed to struggle through the air again in 2016, Bell will still probably do a better job of riding with the strengths the Terps have.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Perry Hills 6'2, 210 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8540 90 180 1001 8 13 50.0% 17 8.6% 4.6
Caleb Rowe 6'3, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8475 76 165 894 6 15 46.1% 0 0.0% 5.4
Shane Cockerille 11 23 82 0 0 47.8% 1 4.2% 3.2
Daxx Garman 6 18 115 1 1 33.3% 5 21.7% 3.6
Gage Shaffer 6'7, 212 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8414








Tyrrell Pigrome 5'11, 190 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8477








Max Bortenschlager 6'3, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8113








Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Brandon Ross RB 152 956 10 6.3 9.5 35.5% 4 3
Perry Hills QB 6'2, 210 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8540 92 639 3 6.9 7.2 47.8% 5 2
Wes Brown RB 6'0, 210 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9374 71 317 3 4.5 3.4 38.0% 1 1
Trey Edmunds
(Virginia Tech)
RB 6'2, 223 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8898 47 185 3 3.9 4.7 29.8% 0 0
Ty Johnson RB 5'10, 184 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8569 35 250 3 7.1 9.0 40.0% 0 0
Caleb Rowe QB 6'3, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8475 20 158 0 7.9 8.7 55.0% 3 0
Shane Cockerille QB/FB 15 43 0 2.9 2.3 33.3% 0 0
William Likely DB 5'7, 175 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8856 11 93 0 8.5 8.6 54.5% 3 1
Kenneth Goins Jr. FB 5'9, 233 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8471 9 60 1 6.7 18.1 22.2% 0 0
Daxx Garman QB 6 20 0 3.3 1.0 33.3% 0 0
Laderrien Wilson RB 5'11, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8387
Jake Funk RB 5'11, 197 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8282
Tyrek Tisdale RB 6'1, 199 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8590







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Teldrick Morgan
(NMSU)
WR 6'0, 195 Sr. NR NR 75 45 551 60.0% 17.7% 7.3 49.3% 36.0% 1.92
Levern Jacobs WR 5'11, 188 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8089 62 35 425 56.5% 17.7% 6.9 64.5% 38.7% 1.64
Taivon Jacobs WR 5'9, 165 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8444 49 21 264 42.9% 14.0% 5.4 55.1% 32.7% 1.59
D.J. Moore WR 5'11, 205 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8872 48 25 357 52.1% 13.7% 7.4 56.3% 41.7% 1.74
Amba Etta-Tawo WR



39 20 216 51.3% 11.1% 5.5 59.0% 43.6% 1.02
Avery Edwards TE 6'4, 234 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8625 28 14 115 50.0% 8.0% 4.1 39.3% 25.0% 1.51
Jahrvis Davenport WR 5'9, 193 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8311 27 11 154 40.7% 7.7% 5.7 63.0% 33.3% 1.72
Malcolm Culmer WR 5'11, 185 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8207 25 15 221 60.0% 7.1% 8.8 68.0% 52.0% 1.58
Wes Brown RB 6'0, 210 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9374 22 13 89 59.1% 6.3% 4.0 50.0% 22.7% 1.53
DeAndre Lane WR 5'7, 175 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7820 11 9 152 81.8% 3.1% 13.8 72.7% 63.6% 2.05
Brandon Ross RB 10 5 17 50.0% 2.8% 1.7 60.0% 20.0% 0.60
William Likely DB 5'7, 175 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8856 7 5 17 71.4% 2.0% 2.4 85.7% 28.6% 0.86
P.J. Gallo TE
6 2 9 33.3% 1.7% 1.5 66.7% 16.7% 0.76
Kenneth Goins Jr. FB 5'9, 233 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8471 5 2 14 40.0% 1.4% 2.8 60.0% 40.0% 0.42
Derrick Hayward TE 6'5, 240 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8458 4 2 10 50.0% 1.1% 2.5 75.0% 0.0% 0.00
Andrew Isaacs TE 6'2, 240 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8621
Michael Cornwell WR 6'2, 215 So. NR NR
Tino Ellis WR 6'1, 185 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9027
DJ Turner WR 5'9, 196 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8829

4. Unique shapes and sizes

Losing Ross hurts; he wasn't amazingly efficient, but he was one of the country's more explosive backs when he found open-field opportunities. Senior Wes Brown, meanwhile, has shown nothing close to Ross' jets.

But between Brown and Virginia Tech graduate transfer Trey Edmunds, Maryland should be able to find a solid efficiency option to complement the explosive QB of choice, and though he's on the small side, sophomore Ty Johnson could eventually turn into a well-rounded back. He didn't get many opportunities in 2015, but in 12 carries in the first and last games of the year, he gained a combined 170 yards. Plus, Maryland signed three freshman backs in February. The Terps have more than enough backs.

The receiving corps is pretty well-manned, too, though obviously having a quarterback to get them the ball could still be an issue. The Jacobs brothers (Levern and Taivon) combined for 689 receiving yards last year, and Levern averaged a healthy 9 yards per target back in 2013. Plus, former four-star recruit D.J. Moore is now a sophomore, two more four-star freshmen (Tino Ellis and DJ Turner) join the mix, and Maryland recently added another graduate transfer, NMSU's leading receiver Teldrick Morgan.

Big running backs, little receivers ... this skill corps is unique and could be pretty effective in the right hands.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 110.8 2.93 3.48 40.2% 51.7% 21.1% 105.4 3.8% 9.5%
Rank 22 59 40 48 124 89 52 40 96
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Michael Dunn LT 6'5, 312 Sr. NR NR 12 38
Ryan Doyle LG 12 35
Andrew Zeller RG 12 32
Evan Mulrooney C 12 17
Damian Prince RT 6'3, 328 So. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9858 6 6
Mike Minter LG 6'3, 305 Jr. NR NR 3 3
Maurice Shelton RG 6'3, 304 Sr. NR NR 2 2
Stephen Grommer C 1 1
JaJuan Dulaney LG 6'3, 302 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8432 0 0
Brendan Moore C 6'3, 295 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8210 0 0
Derwin Gray RT 6'5, 328 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9250 0 0
Quarvez Boulware LG 6'2, 304 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9039

EJ Donahue OL 6'3, 320 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8867

Ellis McKennie OL 6'3, 315 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8358

Will McClain LT 6'5, 305 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8292

Terrance Davis OL 6'3, 320 Fr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9628

Richard Merritt OL 6'4, 338 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8969

5. The line will be fantastic ... at some point

From a pure star ratings perspective, only blue-bloods have recruited as well as Maryland up front. The Terps will boast one former five-star recruit and four former four-stars this fall. The problem: this quintet is made up of two sophomores, a redshirt freshmen, and two true freshmen. Only one of the five has ever started a game (five-star Damian Prince started half the year at right tackle in 2015). Meanwhile, of the 49 career starts returning on this line, 43 belong to former walk-ons.

I have absolutely no idea what to make of this line. It did pretty well last year despite the walk-ons, ranking 22nd in Adj. Line Yards (though dismal in short-yardage) and 52nd in Adj. Sack Rate. But three starters are gone, and the two-deep is going to be flush with redshirt freshmen and/or true freshmen. The ceiling is high, but most of the ceiling comes from guys who might still be too young to reach that ceiling.

SIGN UP FOR OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWSLETTER

Get all kinds of college football stories, rumors, game coverage, and Jim Harbaugh oddity in your inbox every day.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.29 84 IsoPPP+ 100.5 65
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.7% 79 Succ. Rt. + 108.1 39
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 30.5 51 Off. FP+ 33.7 7
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.6 79 Redzone S&P+ 105.6 44
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.3 ACTUAL 18.0 -1.3
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 91 57 39 65
RUSHING 54 33 37 28
PASSING 104 75 48 85
Standard Downs 64 51 73
Passing Downs 31 16 46
Q1 Rk 76 1st Down Rk 57
Q2 Rk 54 2nd Down Rk 66
Q3 Rk 48 3rd Down Rk 42
Q4 Rk 44

6. A Durkin-Buh defense

Durkin and Andy Buh were together on Harbaugh's original Stanford coaching staff. When Durkin left for Florida, Buh left to take the Nevada defensive coordinator job; Nevada ranked 107th in Def. S&P+ the year before he arrived and was 114th the year after he left, but in his two years in Reno, the Wolf Pack ranked 65th and 67th.

After a year at Wisconsin, Buh got what seemed to be a big break by getting the Cal defensive coordinator job. But an already young Cal defense got obliterated by injury and crumbled to 114th in Def. S&P+. He was reassigned in 2014, then left, then eventually took a job as a position assistant at Kentucky last year.

Buh wasn't Durkin's first choice as defensive coordinator, but when Scott Shafer (another Stanford '07er) stepped down for personal reasons after just a few weeks on the job, Durkin sought out a steady hand.

Buh's résumé took a hit with the Cal experience, but he's still been excellent for two of his three years as a defensive coordinator, and he probably has an excellent understanding of the attacking principles Durkin pursues.

Durkin wants you to go off-script, and until the defensive line gave out in November, his 2015 Michigan defense was a work of art. To move the ball, opponents had to throw on standard downs, run on passing downs, and hope to crack a big play at some point. And he has the pieces of what could be an excellent run defense.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 109.6 2.88 2.95 38.4% 61.0% 20.2% 137.6 4.9% 11.8%
Rank 34 67 43 68 35 60 14 70 10
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Yannick Ngakoue DE 12 31.5 4.4% 14.5 13.0 0 1 1 0
Quinton Jefferson DT
12 31.0 4.4% 12.5 6.5 1 1 1 0
Roman Braglio DE 6'2, 262 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8485 11 27.5 3.9% 5.5 3.0 0 1 1 1
Azubuike Ukandu DT 6'0, 307 Sr. NR NR 11 19.5 2.7% 7.0 3.0 0 0 1 0
Jesse Aniebonam DE 6'3, 260 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9404 12 18.5 2.6% 6.5 3.5 0 1 0 0
Kingsley Opara DT 6'3, 305 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8417 11 12.0 1.7% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Chandler Burkett DE 6'3, 240 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8058 8 6.0 0.8% 2.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Cavon Walker DE 6'2, 260 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8209 10 6.0 0.8% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
David Shaw DT 6'4, 307 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7984 4 5.0 0.7% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Brett Kulka DE 6'4, 254 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7830 11 3.0 0.4% 1.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Malik Jones DT 6'4, 275 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8126
Oseh Saine DT 6'2, 286 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8700
Keiron Howard DT 6'3, 289 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8472
Adam McLean DT 6'2, 313 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9419








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jermaine Carter, Jr. ILB 6'0, 240 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8185 12 84.5 11.9% 14.0 0.0 0 3 0 0
Jalen Brooks OLB 6'1, 232 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8156 12 48.0 6.8% 1.0 0.0 2 1 1 0
Avery Thompson OLB 12 30.0 4.2% 0.5 0.0 0 2 0 0
Brett Zanotto OLB 5'10, 220 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8407 10 18.0 2.5% 1.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Jefferson Ashiru OLB 5 18.0 2.5% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Denzel Conyers OLB 6'3, 212 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8430 9 12.0 1.7% 2.0 1.0 0 3 1 0
Tyler Burke ILB 6'3, 245 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8363 12 7.0 1.0% 1.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Mbi Tanyi OLB 6'1, 280 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8270 7 4.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Shane Cockerille OLB 6'2, 235 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8659
Gus Little ILB 6'2, 235 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8489
Isaiah Davis ILB 6'1, 225 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8215
Brett Shepherd LB 6'4, 215 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8423








7. Run defense should be a strength

In Jermaine Carter Jr., Maryland has one of the only players in the country to log 14 non-sack tackles for loss last year. The Terps have good size in the middle -- Azubuike Ukandu, Kingsley Opara, David Shaw, and incoming four-star freshman Adam McLean all top 300 pounds -- and a couple of ends (Roman Braglio and Jesse Aniebonam) who might thrive in larger roles. Maryland ranked 33rd in Rushing S&P+ last year and returns a lot of the reasons for that.

The main issue with the front seven: Only two players recorded at least four sacks, and they're both gone. Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson were outstanding (27 TFLs, 19.5 sacks) and were the primary reasons why Maryland was 14th in Adj. Sack Rate. Braglio, Aniebonam, and junior Chandler Burkett could get there, but Ngakoue and Jefferson were there. And this was a pretty awful pass defense even with a great pass rush.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Sean Davis CB 12 79.0 11.1% 5.5 1 3 3 5 0
Anthony Nixon S 12 68.5 9.6% 4.5 0 3 4 1 0
A.J. Hendy S 12 62.0 8.7% 1 0 0 4 0 0
Will Likely CB 5'7, 175 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8856 11 39.5 5.6% 4 0 0 11 3 0
Alvin Hill CB 6'0, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8125 12 15.5 2.2% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Darnell Savage, Jr. CB 5'10, 192 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8435 10 11.5 1.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jarrett Ross S 5'9, 198 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8382 11 9.5 1.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Josh Woods S 6'1, 202 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8495 6 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.T. Ventura CB 6'1, 205 Jr. NR NR 4 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Denzel Conyers S 6'3, 212 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8430
Tehuti Miles S 5'10, 210 Sr. NR NR
Milan Collins S 6'1, 200 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8354
Antwaine Carter CB 6'1, 190 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7556
Lorenzo Harrison CB 5'8, 188 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8486
Antwaine Richardson CB 6'0, 168 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8472
Elijah Daniels S 6'0, 186 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8466








8. Pass defense probably won't be a strength

The good news, as it were: There are quite a few seniors in the secondary. The level of experience is solid.

The bad news: Most of these seniors weren't good enough to see the field for a bad secondary last year. Edsall and company basically played four DBs last year, with a couple of other corners in occasional reserve. And now three of the four regulars are gone.

Maryland does have Will Likely, a wonderful play-maker, for one more year. Over the last two years, he has compiled eight tackles for loss, six interceptions, 20 break-ups, and four forced fumbles. But in terms of known quantities, that's about it. Jarrett Ross is the most seasoned returning safety, and he's made 12.5 tackles over the last two years. Even if we kindly assume an upgrade in defensive coaching, it's going to be hard for this pass defense to improve too much, especially if the pass rush wavers.

[Update: Former Florida corner J.C. Jackson transferred to Maryland after a year at junior college. He was a four-star recruit, and seems to have locked down a starting spot in camp.]

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Nicolas Pritchard 5'10, 220 So. 55 38.2 1 18 11 52.7%
Brad Craddock 9 36.4 1 1 6 77.8%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Brad Craddock 38 62.6 14 0 36.8%
Adam Greene 5'11, 185 Jr. 19 55.8 2 2 10.5%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Brad Craddock 22-23 6-7 85.7% 2-3 66.7%
Adam Greene 5'11, 185 Jr. 11-11 2-3 66.7% 1-2 50.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
William Likely KR 5'7, 175 Sr. 35 22.5 1
Ty Johnson KR 5'10, 184 So. 5 25.0 0
William Likely PR 5'7, 175 Sr. 23 18.2 2
Ty Johnson PR 5'10, 184 So. 3 13.7 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 114
Field Goal Efficiency 82
Punt Return Success Rate 19
Kick Return Success Rate 77
Punt Success Rate 124
Kickoff Success Rate 93

9. Freshman punters become sophomore punters

Likely is also a star in the return game, but even with him, Maryland's special teams unit graded out dismally in 2015, thanks mostly to shaky legs and shaky coverage. Nicolas Pritchard was shaky as a freshman, and Maryland ranked 125th in punting average; meanwhile, the Terps also ranked 97th in kick return average allowed. You're just wasting a good return man like Likely if you're allowing the same returns and field position bumps that Likely is providing you.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep Howard NR 49.7 100%
9-Sep at Florida International 113 12.0 76%
17-Sep at Central Florida 99 6.4 64%
1-Oct Purdue 88 9.5 71%
8-Oct at Penn State 28 -11.8 25%
15-Oct Minnesota 42 -0.6 49%
22-Oct Michigan State 22 -7.1 34%
29-Oct at Indiana 56 -4.4 40%
5-Nov at Michigan 6 -19.9 13%
12-Nov Ohio State 14 -9.9 28%
19-Nov at Nebraska 26 -12.1 24%
26-Nov Rutgers 87 9.5 71%
Projected wins: 5.9
Five-Year F/+ Rk -11.5% (86)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 47 / 41
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* -18 / -5.9
2015 TO Luck/Game -4.6
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 70% (93%, 46%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 3.8 (-0.8)

10. A 4-0 start is on the table

Durkin has generated buzz with some recent recruiting successes. Again, there's no guarantee that he will retain any of the commitments he has secured, but it's a good start.

He'll need a good start on the field, too. Maryland is projected a borderline bowl team and is projected with at least 64 percent win probability in five games, but four of those five come in the first four games of the year.

A 4-0 start, combined with good recruiting, could generate all sorts of positive press. And going by the S&P+ probabilities, Maryland has about a 35 percent chance of hitting that 4-0 mark. But since the schedule gets brutal in a hurry, anything less than 4-0 would make securing a bowl bid a lot dicier. So not only does the quarterback position need to improve this year; it needs to have improved right out of the gates.

There's a lot to like about the Durkin hire. He checked a lot of boxes before he got the job, and he has done an outstanding job of generating summer buzz. But again, so did Mark Stoops. Building is tricky. We'll see if Durkin can continue to check boxes moving forward.